Too Many Emails? Get On The Case With Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Problem: My Outlook Inbox Can Be Filled To The Gills And Things Fall Through The Cracks

Sorry for mixing metaphors, but bear with me.  Much like just about everyone, I get a lot of emails. And to complicate things I just didn’t want to let go, and I’d use my Outlook Inbox as a storage system.   I always had this superstition that the time I’m going to need an email I’ve kept for no good reason is right after I delete it.  But aside from that I needed a better way to track customer requests or things I need to follow up on.  Also, I may be onsite in meetings all day with one customer capturing follow-ups for myself while getting requests from other customers during the time I’m onsite.  I want to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks and that our customers are getting the service they need.   Sound familiar?  The good thing is that we use Microsoft CRM, and it has some simple and powerful tools to help with this problem.  The main tool in my toolbox is the Case.

A Case can also be called a ticket or incident.  It may be an issue, or it may be simply a request for information.

Before We Start: Using the Magic Buttons to Create a Case

 

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You’re probably wondering “What are the Magic Buttons?” That’s a good question, and if you use Microsoft CRM with Outlook 2010 or greater, you’ll see that the buttons in the above graphic are on your Inbox ribbon.  Its worth talking through how these buttons help manage email. 

1.  Select an email and then hit Track.

2. The Convert To option will now be available.  Clicking on it reveals 3 options:

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We’re concerned with cases, so I’ll leave the other options for another blog or two.

3. Selecting Cases will bring up this dialog box:

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Customer is required.  I‘d fill in the name of the Customer and click OK.  The Case form will open.  We’ll stop our show-and-tell here.  (Note: if the person sending the email is in CRM, they’ll show up as the customer automatically.  I’d still recommend associating the case to a company).

One thing I will do sometimes is email myself, and track/convert to Case to get it in the system.  Consider that a fancy, fast, and efficient note-to-self.

 

Cut To The Chase: Why Use A Case?

1. Using Cases allows me to delegate to others directly or I can put it in a queue where the next available person can grab the work.

2. The Case is captured in CRM for all who are looking at the Account to see.  Not everyone can see my Inbox. 

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3. Once in CRM, I can have workflows help me keep track of where the item is with alerts to either myself or my management if needed.

4. Once in CRM, I can use out-of-the-box Dashboards and Views to help me to focus my efforts.

5. Once in CRM, I can use out-of-the-box Dashboards and Views to help me focus the efforts of those to  whom I might have delegated the item.

6. I can use CRM’s built in reports to get a long term view of the work, or make my own reports.

7. Once in CRM, the entire email thread can be associated to Case.  I can see all correspondence relating to the matter in one place, the Case.  (I did force that rhyming, yes).  The same applies to appointments or tasks associated to the Case as well.  And as a bonus, the activities associated to the Case can be seen from the Account automatically. And did I mention this helps us to know how much effort it takes to close something out?

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8. Three months after the case is closed and the same question comes up from the same people, we (not necessarily I now) can refer back to when we (see previous parentheses) solved it the first time.

9. All of the above leads to one final and great point:  I can now safely delete the email from my Outlook Inbox without fear of something slipping through the cracks.

I’ve tried the Outlook way with Tasks or Emails in the past and it is just not as organized.  Outlook and CRM compliment each other very nicely though, and CRM kicks it up a notch with its workflow management and reporting.  And is  CRM at-face-value-no-offense-to-those-who-made-it-look-so-easy, another set of folders in Outlook?  Indeed it is.

Final Thoughts

Now there is still work involved here, and wherever you are following up on items you still need to follow-up. Outlook is a closed system in that regard whereas CRM is collaborative.  No one else can see that you have something languishing in your Inbox but with CRM everyone (depending on security of course) can see a stale case.

Finally, there is more to Cases than what I’ve described here, but that’s the beauty of it.  We use Cases to help solve our particular problem, and there are many other applications for this tool.  But that discussion is for another blog.

If you would like to see how we can leverage our experience to make your business better, please contact us at info@customereffective.com or 877-252-2171.